Thursday, 6 November 2014

Sunday, 19 October 2014

10 Signs you Should Quit your Job to Travel

You will only be reading this if you are contemplating leaving not only the country but your job behind to travel the world. Now I can only urge you to take the plunge and do it, but if you're showing any of these 10 signs, it might just push you over the edge to do it.

Step One...
1. You spend more time researching destination and airfares than actually working

If you find more than 40% of your time in front of the computer is taken up by looking at destinations around the world you want to travel to next, or looking for the next best deal on your favourite airline website, it may be a sign.

2. You struggle to get out of bed on weekdays

You spent majority of the night trying to get yourself to sleep because you knew you had to go to work the next day. Then your alarm goes off, and you feel like you haven't gotten a wink of sleep and you're really not ready to take on the world of work today. It may be a sign.

3. You refrain from buying a coffee so you can save $4.00 daily to get out of there sooner. (But can you really live without coffee to get through this...)


This is a daily struggle, do I buy a coffee today and spend a few dollars that could probably add up to a beer or two in Europe or South East Asia. Five coffees a week at $4.00 each equals $20.00. But how am I going to function without my daily coffee, or two... now we're up to $40.00 a week with two coffees a day. It may be a sign. 

4. You drink so much water you have to a) keep going to fill it up and b) going to the toilet

To break up the time spent at your desk, when you're not searching for holiday destinations, airfares and buying coffee, you are filling up your water bottle, hanging by the water fountain, drinking more than your 8 glasses a day, and visiting the bathroom more than the average human. It may be a sign. 

5. You check your annual leave daily expecting to find an extra day pop out of nowhere

You check your payslip, your online account and payroll to calculate how many vacation days you have. And then how many you may have for 12th March 2015 and when you realise it is only 17.93 days and equates to only 3 weeks away from work you cry yourself to sleep at night. It may be a sign. 

6. You're more than happy to eat 2 minute noodles for dinner most nights... and then for lunch

You know the struggle, when you can't drink your coffee you resolve to binging on 2 minute noodles, daily, even twice-daily. Maybe because you can't cut out the coffee so instead of spending money on gourmet groceries you settle for $1, 2-minutes noodles (that is only 50 cents for each minute you prepare them). It may be a sign.

7. Not one day goes by without you wondering - What the hell am I doing here?

You struggle to get out of bed, you spend your car ride in traffic saying why, why, why to the other drivers, and then you arrive at work. Sitting at your desk mindlessly asking yourself why, why, why? You could be out with your cousin's best friend who is posting pictures jumping off a yacht in Croatia. You could be eating sipping on Margherita's with your Aunty and her new boyfie in Mexico. Or you be creating your own journey, wherever you want to go. Ask yourself. It may be a sign. 

8. If you have the slightest tickle in your throat you contemplate chucking a sickie

There is a tickle in your throat. You're seeing spots, oh no a migraine is coming on. You better get to your doctor for these easy to diagnose illnesses that are in your own mind so you can get out of work for the day. Why not make it two. If you're flaking out on work, it may be a sign. 

9. Your lunch break is spent sitting at a desk with a travel agent

You have a designated break time, and your travel agent is free and ready. You find yourself rushing to see them, then going over all the ins-and-outs of spending a 'reasonable' 10 days in Los Angeles, only to find you have just spent you're entire lunch break with them and haven't even had a chance to heat up your noodles. It may be a sign. 

10. You open a spreadsheet to make it look like you're being productive but really your holiday planning.

You're combatting the reasons why. You're fighting off an unknown throat tickler. You have just finished your third coffee for the day (OMG that is $6.00 now). You have the stench of the 2 minute noodles resting the bin beside you. You have all there is to do in 10 days in Los Angeles from your trusty travel agent. You are busting to go to the loo. You have another day to get through work being a Thursday and know a restless night is ahead. You've done your research. You know you have 17.93 days in March, but an unknown period of time right in front of you. You know what you have to do. 

All GIFs supplied from

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

From Where I Would Rather Call Home

Is there somewhere else in this world you hold close to your heart other than your home country? Maybe you aspire to move somewhere that you love more than where you are right now.

Back in 2010 I ended my European backpacking trip in Ireland and Northern Ireland, in the former home of my roots, the generation of my grandfather. I grew up hearing of the legacy of a great man I never got to meet, and felt this undying need to travel where my heritage travelled from and connect to the land where my blood runs thick. I'm not sure if I'm the only one who feels this connection with a person, a place or location, or even a particular time of day, but when your heart pounds a beat harder in a special country, and you can feel the blood rush to your fingertips, this is what I call a home away from home.

Only problem was I had just over a week to get the most out of it before returning to my reality hanging the backpack up, til next time. So I flew into Dublin, with great expectations to end the trip with golden memories and the privilege of exploring the Emerald Isle.

Arriving into Dublin
Taking this trip as a passage of life, I took the opportunity to get out on foot and explore the city of Dublin one street at a time, I eventually ended up at the river which separates the centre of city. I ran into two quintessential members of the public standing on the corner, handing out flyer's coaxing us into the local Irish Pub to watch them dance over dinner. If I must! There was my night sorted already, a reservation at my first pub in Ireland to watch their national dance over a pint (schooner in my opinion). I was quite happy with a more than Irish night ahead of me. 

Meeting the local talent
With a few more hours to kill, I remembered reading in an article before departing Australia of a brand new museum in Dublin dedicated to the Leprechaun - Yes a National Leprechaun Museum! So I took out the crumpled article ripped from the Sydney Telegraph and asked the Irish Dancers if they knew where it was, conveniently right around the corner. Things just keep getting better on the Emerald Isle. So I skipped off on my merry way to the museum of leprechauns not knowing what to expect. It is set out in a block of bricks somewhat warehouse-y with a side entrance sprayed with leprechaun-y things all over the walls. On first impressions I thought this is a bit child-like, like the science-based museums made for children's education in Australia, but I guess big kids need to have fun too. There are a lot of 'facts' about the 'foes' of the fairy tales in Ireland, and it hit me. I am in a museum dedicated to something that may or may not be fictional. Then I walked into the Leprechaun's room, where I was magically transformed into a Leprechaun! Everything around me was giant, and I was miniature, I mean I am pretty miniature already barely taller than 5 feet. So as I watched people climbing the giant chairs and tables, I tried to do the same. Without any luck, I was unable to climb these giant objects, it dawned on me, have I too become a Leprechaun? 

Where is the pot of gold?
Moving on from my ability to climb great heights, I made it to the finish line of the museum and remembering many secret key letters I won a gold coin straight from the pot of gold kept guarded at the National Leprechaun Museum. I have kept this coin, as a lucky charm and it sits nicely in my collection of foreign currency - which is my personal pot of gold. Overall, it's worth the visit for the novelty of the room with giant furniture. If you have children even better, this place is probably more dedicated to the little kids with a whole range of activities to do at their education level. 

Leaving the museum I sensed the workers there were sick of my childlike behaviour. I wanted to head back to where big kids like me are encouraged to let their childish behaviour out, and down a pint of Guinness while watching these dancing tap the shit out of the stage. OK, I'll be honest I flaked out on the Guinness that night. I am a poor beer drinker at the best of times, so a dark and dingy stout wasn't on my list of things to consume that night. Plus I didn't want to peak too early on the Irish icons on the first night, it will make me look easy. I watched the dancers, the floor shook, the band played their music which rattled in my ears for days. Overall, my night at the Arlington Hotel was one of the greatest nights I had spent out, because I got down to the core of why I am here. 

After 3 nights in Dublin, and a few debates with new found friends about whether to choose Galway or Cork, I moved on to Cork. Yes I chose Cork. Still to this day people ask, why did you choose Cork? Um, because it was the last place Titanic docked y'all! It has to be good. To be honest I don't remember my thought process, but a city named after the stopper for my wine bottle has to be good. Right? 

I had two nights here, and when I arrived it was quiet as anything so I wondered how two nights was going to go down. Arriving at the hostel I booked a tour straight away with Paddywagon to get out of Cork the next morning and fill up the time I had there. To me this made perfect sense because I knew the next day I was going to take in the rolling hills of jade, the sheer cliffs of rust, and the crashing waves of whitewash. I gave the the night a crack, I was staying at the New Zealand named Bru Hostel, having taken as much of the Irish-ness in, I thought I would stay somewhere that represented a little closer to home... it actually ended being a great place to stay, apart from the 7 flights of stairs to reach my dorm, this is a killer later on in the evenings. The hostel was part pub too, when in Ireland. So a local band spent a few hours playing the classics, Whiskey in the Jar and Galway Girl, which reminded me of the city I had chosen not to be in over Cork. I moved on to another local jaunt a few 100 metres down the road to listen to another Irish band play a few other songs that sounded similar to Whiskey in the Jar, by this point it all sounded the same to me. By this point I was also ready to down my first Guinness! I ordered a pint, because when you're trying a dark dingy stout for the first time, always aim for the biggest, I could have went for the jug. I tell you now, I remember it tasting like golden bloody beer. I really enjoyed it (however, I did not enjoy it so much when I arrived home thinking I was the next biggest Guinness drinker in Australia, for some reason shipping it across the globe makes it taste a lot worse), and I was a part of the converted. 

Embracing the upper lip with stout
 After climbing 7 levels to my room, only to realise I had to be at the tour point in only 4 hours, bed never felt so good, and I did not want to miss one minute on the road trip I was about to take. 

First stop was into Limerick, where we saw King John's Castle for only 10 minutes and got back on the road again. We were on the way to the Cliffs of Moher, an iconic destination I could not wait to see. My eyes were heavy and I was fighting the urge to doze off until I arrived, I had a feeling maybe the driver felt the same way, again we are in Ireland. Arriving into the Cliffs of Moher I remember first realising here the public toilets had those Dyson hand dryers, this was the first time in my life and all my travels I had seen these fancy vacuum cleaners on a toilet - go Ireland! I raced to the least tourist-packed spot and I was in awe. I continued to breathe in the air, smell the ocean, and feel the wind as this place just took me all over. I'll let the images do the talking. Have you ever seen a place so breathtaking?

So after about 2 hours roaming free and manoeuvring my way through rocks that hugged the cliff side, I took my life back in my hands and reluctantly hopped back in the van. I felt awake as my eyes were pierced with beauty, my lips tasted of fresh sea salt, and my hair was windswept just like how you see it in the movies - all over my face! You know what, I didn't even care, well I never care really. I didn't want this feeling to ever end. I wish I could relive that moment over and over again. 

So we move on to the Poulnabrone Dolmen a.k.a Ancient Tomb, and we're talking 1000's of years old, B.C. times. Just at the entrance I couldn't help but stop and talk to this man, he was making traditional Gaelic pieces, with a bottle of Jameson by his side, and a half-eaten apple. 


I recall his name as 'Tommy'. I may be wrong so, for any of my readers out there, if you know this man please let me know, or get him to get in touch with me. I need to tell him something. He asked why I came to Ireland, I told him the same reasons I explained to you above. He then followed on to ask if I was looking for love (no it isn't one of those stories...) but he was quick to answer for me - "You're not going to find it here" he says. OK thanks buddy, there goes my dreams of finding my Gerald Butler P.S. I love you story where my Irish husband dies and writes me a series of love letters from his grave until I fall in love with another Irish man. So now, I need to tell "Tommy" something, he was right. And he was right in more ways then one. He told me that love will find me when I go home, with a man by the name of "Shaun". I'm thinking, Shaun that's a pretty dorky name. He said he's a burly bloke, a very sporty kind likes all sorts of sports. This is your one true love. 

After he finished a necklace with my grandfathers surname spelt in Gaelic I returned to the van giggling to myself. He was an incredible character wasn't he, someone with a diet of a nip of Jameson's with a half-eaten apple, surely he doesn't know what he's going on about. 3 months later I met my future husband. A sporty bloke by the name of Shaun, and yes he's a dork, my dork. We were to marry 2 years on (in our travel inspired wedding, of course), and I was only reminded of this story by my mum weeks before I walked down the aisle. The luck of the Irish hey. 

Thanks "Tommy"

My mate "Tommy"
My two days in Cork turned out to be sensational, I can't wait to return there one day and travel out to see the sights in County Clare once again, and hopefully stumble upon "Tommy".

I'm excited that I'm heading up to Belfast now, this is where my grandfather grew up, although I know this is where I will be spending my last few nights before boarding the return flight back home, I know I am ending this trip embracing my heritage. I am beaming with happiness as I arrive at our hostel, Vagabonds. Owned by a husband from Belfast and his wife from Australia, awesome crew. I take the opportunity to book a black taxi tour, where you can discover the history behind this city and country. The tour was fantastic and left me with shivers as we visited some historical landmarks that shaped this city. The feel of the city still felt very raw, I sensed hostility in the air probably knowingly as it was just commencing the annual march through Belfast. The vibe of the city showed me deep pride throughout the neighbourhoods, I saw many different textures and elements throughout the city, it was exciting. As we approached the peace wall, there were a couple of lads terrorising any by-passers, it didn't bother me, I still got my texta out to write a message on the wall in memory of my grandfather and respect for the city he hails from. I only tell of this to hope that this message one meets them, or young kids alike from countries all around the world including my own, stop terrorising the streets, using graffiti and marking your territory with rubbish from your last Macca's visit. People from all over the world visit where you live and form an opinion. Luckily I am resilient, but some are not. Rant over.

It's not far from Belfast where you can discover one of this world's greatest wonders. Just like the Leprechaun museum, The Giant's Causeway is a location home to one of Ireland greatest folklore. Another destination of this isle that adds many dimensions for reason to love this place. To me it is a phenomenon of layers that symbolise your journey through life, just like a causeway, it is to cross through the passage in life in which you are meant to take. Some steps take you up a level, others your stepping aside, and then sometimes you really have to start back down at the bottom to get where you really want in life. My journey as a backpacker is all about this, and my visit to Ireland was the passage of life I intended on taking to get down to the roots, which translated to the simpler (perhaps finer) things in life that you can find in the beauty you seek, the air you taste and overall the reaction you feel in your body as you take this all in. 

This is the reason why I travel to a new place, to discover how different each place can make me feel, and when I feel something as strong as this place made me feel, I know I will be back. Guinness in hand, lucky gold coin in tow, and my lucky charm husband with me this time to relive it all and hopefully run into "Tommy".

See you again soon!

Until then Cheers!

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Sydney vs. Melbourne

It’s the ultimate debate for all Australians. If you’re from Sydney you will fight to the death to prove Sydney is better than Melbourne, and if you’re from  Melbourne you’re too good to care which city is better, because you know Melbourne is. And if you’re from any other city in Australia you wonder why yours doesn’t appear in the debate, but will still back up either one. The idea is, our capital city Canberra was chosen being in between both Sydney or Melbourne, and even our nationals couldn’t decide. OK I don’t know if this is a real fact, but that is what all Sydney-siders and Melbournians say to get over the rejection.

I have lived in both cities, so I think I am more than qualified to weigh these champion cities out. So, if you’re thinking about travelling to or making either of these cities your final destination, here is a little guide to help you decide.


Although Sydney gets more rainfall in a year than Melbourne, you can hardly tell.
Sydney is basically Australian for sunshine, blue skies and phenomenal thunderstorms. For me anyway, I love the smell of the downpour from a typical Sydney thunderstorm accompanied by shards of lightning that brighten the sky for a split second and the rumble and crackle of the air and ground colliding. This is a symbol of Summer, minutes before and after it’s nothing but 30c days and blue skies. If it’s Winter you’re after, temperatures can still be seen up in 24-25c, but settle around 18c. Spring has just begun and today I didn’t bother putting on a coat or a scarf, and embraced the 27c, Summer can wait if Spring is going to be like this.
Do you like rain? Despite the bucketing down thunderstorms of Sydney dropping more rain than Melbourne, it is just constant on and off drizzle. You must always be accompanied with an umbrella because you will be more than likely stuck in a bit of rain. Given it is south and the coast of Bass Strait, the winds there can be ferocious as well with a bite of frost. I was really confronted by this in November still no sign of 20c days of sunshine, locals said February just wait Summer will be here. There was a period of 2 weeks in February which involved hot sticky 45c days majority. Melbourne does heat waves very well. Safe to say my Summer there was a total of 4 weeks broken up across February – April.

Winner: Sydney

Rainy days in Melbourne - St Kilda Pier

Nothing but sunshine in Sydney - Cronulla Beach


I think the restaurateurs and café owners around Sydney have started to put up a fight against the hipster vibe of Food in Melbourne. Lately places have been popping up that offer great competition to the Southern State rival. There a great pockets throughout Sydney City and its suburbs that offer quality food. The restaurants have been in the past sterile and offer food without the vibe, atmosphere and design, you know a row of options that offer the same thing. However, things are improving and you can find a great spot depending on what you’re after. My tips are Surry Hills, Newtown, The Rocks, and Darlinghurst.
Where do I start. When I arrived in Melbourne, I knew I would be spoilt for choice with places for food, the trick is you have to find them. Part of what makes Melbourne so iconic is the variety of cuisines, cultures and the platter in which they are served to you. Generally in a back alley camouflaged with graffiti, plants walls and brick facades, you will be presented with a dining experience like no other, with some of the best Australian and International chefs calling this place home. And guess what, it is affordable! Great food is not hard to find, you do just have to search for it and here is a little help: Specific streets with top spots Flinders Lane, South Melbourne Market, Chapel St  and Exhibition St. Just remember to weave in and out.

Winner: Melbourne

Japanese Cuisine in Melbourne
Tasting a selection of desserts in The Conservatory, Melbourne

Bars and Nightlife:

From when I was legally capable of drinking I discovered Sydney nightlife, I soon got sick of it
(a trip to Europe helped with that). There is a lot to offer for those who want to go clubbing with some premium spots throughout the city, if you don’t mind paying a cover fee and waiting in lines. Sydney however has a vast amount of pubs, my favourite place to enjoy a drink with friends. Live bands followed by DJ’s are in most pubs across the city, and you can start your night earlier than 11 pm. Bars are not as prevalent, if so they’re in a large building with a restaurant feel. Sydney is your place for clubbing the early hours of the morning in Darling Harbour, George St and Kings Cross; or old-style pubs nearly every corner for a relaxed vibe mainly found in The Rocks, Paddington and Town Hall. Don’t forget The Star Casino also which offers a bar and a nightclub.
I was nervous when new friends asked me to go out for a few drinks over the weekend. I thought please no, don’t let it be clubbing. I was pleasantly surprised. Melbourne is a laid back small bar kind of place, and an array of rooftop watering holes. It is really the place to meet with friends and enjoy yourself and you can still hear one another. Just like the food, to find the drinks you have to weave in and out of the back alleys to find pretty awesome spots. Most bars offer a theme, and cocktails to match the uniqueness. Most of the time you will either have to climb stairs or wander to the basement to get to your destination, again adding to the experience. Most bars offer quality tapas style food so the atmosphere of mixology and gastronomy overlaps. Swanston St offers a 7 storey selection of great bars so you can you’re your pick, or try Russell St, and Little Lonsdale. As well as bars, Southbank boasts the iconic Crown Casino with the complex offering so much more to anyone who visits.

Winner: Melbourne

Outdoor bar on the Yarra River, Melbourne

The Establishment nightclub in Sydney

Getting Around:

Most people local complain about their transport, but having lived in both cities I can see the best of both worlds. Sydney lacks a tram network, but I don’t know how well it would work anyway. Then on the other hand has a fantastic railway servicing majority of the city. You may have to catch a ferry across Sydney Harbour to the Manly (that sounds terrible doesn’t it…), or a bus out to the Eastern suburbs, but you can get everywhere else by train. The trains are great, built to take thousands of passengers. Just please as a traveller if you don’t have to be anywhere detrimental, do NOT travel in peak hour. It will be cheaper for you off-peak and I don’t want you thinking I gave you the wrong information when you are stuck under someone’s armpit for a 2 stop journey. Just avoid it, for the locals too. 
Sydney has just upped the anti and introduced the Opal Card which compares to Melbourne's MyKi system, it is now a dream using transport and you don't have to pay for the card like in Melbourne. The train system is great to avoid driving around Sydney, the roads are average, and traffic in peak is congested, but people like to move, fast. The drivers in Sydney are always on their way somewhere, so everyone is alert and not getting in your way.
First of all their train system kind of sucks. Always delayed, due to weather changes, and that is unavoidable where I think in a city that has constant weather changes, a contingency really needs to be discovered. It would be a revelation! To avoid getting caught in the weather, they have the best mode of transport in the whole country. The Yarra Trams. You can travel anywhere in the city quickly, efficiently and avoid the weather. Getting around is very easy and different trams come along every couple of minutes. I was first overwhelmed because I didn’t know where I was going. I would only use a tram if you are travelling within the city surrounds, St Kilda and Bay suburbs, Richmond and Prahran. Just follow your route and remember which stop number you need to get off. 
Melbourne introduced the MyKi card to tap on and tap off to pay for your journey but loading money on the card. No matter how long you are in Melbourne, you have to pay for this card. If you're driving, beware. The roads are great, drivers not so much - sorry! And be careful, there is no tolerance for speeding even if its a few kilometres over.

Winner: Sydney
Waiting for a ferry on the wharf in Sydney
On foot in Melbourne watching a train pass under the city


When you think of Australia, I know you have in your head right now Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House, followed by a bunch of kangaroos and koalas. Am I right?
Sydney-siders are very proud of the harbour, there is not a local I know who doesn’t embrace that view no matter how often they see it. You then have Darling Harbour which is on the other side of the harbour and a beautiful boardwalk with plenty of places to stop, and enjoy the sunshine. The Royal Botanical Gardens also offers a wonderful view and peaceful walk amongst nature. There is no doubt the beauty of this city for me surpasses many other cities around the world even. There are other sights to offer outside the city, The Blue Mountains in the West, Taronga Zoo on the North Shore, and the South Coast. Overall, if you are coming to Australia for the beaches, and want to choose between these two cities, Sydney has a long stretch of coast to offer beautiful shores with surf, relaxation and fun in the sun. Just remember to slip, slop, slap - sunburn is a killer in Australia (literally).
I don’t know what I picture apart from food and culture when it comes to Melbourne sights. There is the Yarra river which separates the city, reality is it is dark and murky, but it is surrounded by great buildings and complexes that boast art and design that astounds great architects globally. Melbourne city offers so much more within than the look of it. See Federation Square, the bar at the top of Rialto Tower, and the Gardens that surround the city, but venture out. Decent sightseeing is generally an hour out of the city, Yarra Valley in the North for just above average wine, Mornington Peninsula in the South for more wine and the majority of the beaches found in Melbourne, West is the city of Geelong and further is Torquay where you can find Australia's number one beach for surfing - Bell's Beach. For a little longer on the road, there is the Great Ocean Road which really cannot be missed, but now you're well outside of Melbourne. 
Winner: Sydney

Embracing the view on my Hen's Night Out in Sydney

Brighton boat sheds in Melbourne

The 12 Apostles along the Great Ocean Road, outside Melbourne


Sport in Sydney is made up majorly of Rugby League fans, and up and coming soccer (football) teams. We have the best AFL Team in the country, and it slowly growing in the state of NSW as the red and white of Sydney Swans dominate the sport across the country - I am bias. Other than this nothing really compares to what Melbourne has to offer, so I might as well move on.Melbourne is undeniably the sport's capital of Australia. With some of the best venues in the country and worldwide, the famous Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) makes the top 10 sporting stadium in the world in terms of visitors. Cricket isn't all that is played here, this is the home ground for many AFL Teams and is basically a sell out all year round. Out of the 18 AFL teams in Australia 8 are in Melbourne city, and the fans are fanatic. The atmosphere is a tourist destination, buy a ticket and go to a game. Melbourne is also home to the Australian Open every Summer, Formula 1 every March, and an ecstatic racing carnival with the very well known Melbourne Cup (this is a public holiday). There is more, and many more stadiums, arenas and parks that you can take in all the sport there is to offer. 

 Winner: Melbourne

I see the light on the way to the MCG
In our Sydney Swans gear at the MCG

Cricket at the MCG

Final Result: Sydney 3 - Melbourne 3

So overall, my 23 years living in Sydney and 18 months in Melbourne - I can't decide. Does this mean if I gave more time living in Melbourne, it could have won me over? Quite possibly. It means that I am a proud Australian to more than one city, but I still believe at least Sydney or Melbourne should be the capital. 

Which Australian city do you prefer?

I've also left a few resources to help you during you're visit to either city - and then let you decide: 

Food: Urbanlist Top 50
Transport: Transport NSW
Sightseeing: Things to Do
Food: Urbanlist Top 50
Transport: Public Transport Victoria
Meeting People Bars/Nightlife: Newbies International
Sightseeing: Things to Do


Tuesday, 19 August 2014

5 of the Best and 5 of the Worst Places to Stay

Whether you travel light, long or on a budget can you think of your best and worst night's sleep? 
I have travelled in many different hotels, motels and hostels and though it's tough to pick my favourite 5 I could narrow it down to a one hand selection which offered a great nights sleep, great facilities and good vibes. With the good there is always the bad and I have selected 5 of my worst nights sleep, or if I slept well I just might not like the accommodation... they make for funny stories though! 

Here are 5 places where I would stay again in a heartbeat:

1. Pueblo Bonito Pacifica*****
Luxury All-Inclusive Resort, Cabo San Lucas - Mexico

We'll start from the very top, where I cannot go past offering Pueblo Bonito Pacifica my poll position. This resort in Cabo San Lucas offers all inclusive to adults only so unlike it's sister resorts in Cabo it isn't infested with children. It's beachfront and has two large pools to prevent you swimming in the dangerous currents. There is no doubt this place is luxury, but we managed to score a great deal on Expedia when combining flights from San Diego, which is the closest US city to fly out of. For 4 nights and return flights for two it cost us $800 each which in the scheme of all inclusive is great value. We stayed at the end of March over Easter actually, where the resort put on an awesome Easter egg hunt which included spa prizes and diamonds! We scored 2 free t shirts which made for great pajamas. My recommendation is to stay over a Sunday where they put on a killer Sunday Brunch with flowing mimosas included. Each night is a different theme by the pool, we most enjoyed the Mexican night of course. Shaun loved the morning tequila shots which are basically a replacement for espresso coffee in Cabo, followed by Mango Margaritas all shaken poolside. I unfortunately cannot stomach tequila due to a night out that turned to the toilet bowl... but there was plenty to offer for me that was exclusive of tequila.
Overall our stay here was romantic, fun and relaxing with other guests forming groups of friends, honeymooners and people travelling from all over the world. If we could stay anywhere in the world again, this would be it and we are already planning our next trip here already, and bringing friends along for the experience. 

The most exotic and spectacular place I've stayed - Ever!

2. Villa Skansi Backpackers House
Hostel, Backpackers, Hvar, Croatia

This is good as backpacking accommodation gets, this family host do everything right. We arrived here on a hot afternoon and went straight to the outdoor terrace to check in, and offered a drink on arrival (not spiked with alcohol but our newly-made kiwi friends brought that along to share). We waited for our key and enjoyed the Croatian sun on the wicker furniture unaware of the beauty of this hostel. While waiting I was stung by a European wasp, and without further ado my Magyver kiwi friends patted the bite down with some of that vodka and a little bit of ice to heal - right as rain - as we say. Our room was ready at this point, downstairs into a basement like area were the dorm rooms, ours at the very back next door to the decked out kitchen. The rooms and bathroom were above standard hostel quality, but what made our visit to Hvar so much more enjoyable was the quality shower which head 5 different heads. What hostel in the world offers luxury shower heads? It was the best showering experience I had in a long time, 2 months into my backpacking journey, it was welcomed. The family host just knew how to make it all work, offering such great facilities to their backpackers and all the contacts of the world to get a boat here, jetski there, or a bike from the house next door to the grocers. It felt like a home, and they had welcomed us. We stayed over a weekend, and we all put in money to buy lots of meat, and the husband and wife duo cooked up a mean Croatian BBQ. It was a fun beginning to our night there, but also symbolised our last night in Hvar. It was also sadly the owners last night with their family dog who had reached an age of no recovery. We ate our BBQ and raised our glasses in the air to Blacky and our family host for their welcoming and wonderful hospitality. This place is perfect for solo, couple or group backpackers looking for a welcoming and fun vibe in more of a Villa style than a hostel. When I return to Croatia in 2015, I will re-visit here with my hubby to share wonderful experiences again - Cheers Villa Skansi.  

Outdoor terrace with a view!

3. Salerno Motel***
Motel, Christchurch - New Zealand

We visited Christchurch 3 months after the devastating earthquake. Despite so many people telling us to rethink our trip, we are super glad we went and super glad we stayed in the city. There is no doubt it was eerily quiet, the motel owner was welcoming and let us know what to do in case of any tremors throughout the night. I was slightly hoping that I would be able to experience a low magnitude quake, and follow his instructions to remain calm and on the bed, where he would then come around and check on each of us, what a host. Apart from seeing the magnificent aftermath of the 2011 destructive earthquake, we spent 3 lovely nights here at what looks like a standard motel. But Salerno Motel is far from it. The rooms offer a pop of colour which themes the entire room, we had metallic silver and turquoise and I still remember it. With a massive spa bath to warm you overnight during our winter stay. The motel was right on Bealey St which is the boundary of the CBD but is still walking distance to the centre and the gorgeous Botanical Gardens. Christchurch is only a 3 hour flight from Sydney, so a short trip to revisit is well worth it and if I was to return to the South Island I would definitely stay here again. 

The contrast of beauty and destruction in Christchurch months after the 2011 Earthquake
Deluxe Spa Suite in Salerno Motel

4. Pan Pacific Singapore****
Hotel, Singapore, Singapore

There are so many people I know who have been to Singapore either in transit for a night or for a week long stay, so I had many offers of recommendations for our stay. I'm not one to stay in mainstream places like Raffles Hotel, but I was tempted to book the Marina Bay Sands, it was just far too expensive for our 3 nights. We booked Pan Pacific Singapore with Qantas Hotels when we bundled up our flights and earnt some cool points during our stay, as well as an awesome upgrade on arrival. What set this hotel on top for me was the location, design and hospitality. It was set on top of Marina Square which had a massive H&M to get well and truly lost in, as well as a two minute walk to the Flyer and the Helix Bridge over the Marina Bay. Our hotel room was high-tech and ultra modren with a spa bath, that was separated by a king bed overlooking out onto the Singapore Flyer. After a humid day exploring the cultural districts across the city, arriving back into the hotel is refreshing not just with it's airconditioned breeze, but the complimentary chilled beverage in the foyer to enjoy sitting in the floating pods of the indoor bar atrium. The class and elegance here reminds me of Changi Airport, where hospitality in Singapore continues from your arrival to departure. That is why when I return to Singapore, not if, we will stay here again as the perfect transit destination for a few nights (or more).

Our suite at the Pan Pacific Singapore

5. Oasis Hostel Lisbon***
Hostel, Lisbon, Portugal

Featured on Europe's Famous Hostel's list, Oasis was literally an oasis location to stay in Lisboa. I recommend to majority of backpackers to use Europe's Famous Hostels list for many major cities when they book their stay, because Oasis was our first experience booking from this selection and is now tried and true for me and many other EFH hostels across Europe. So thanks EFH and Oasis for the novice experience that turned me into a fully fledged EFH booker. I first arrived here after a week long trip on a friends couch in London, followed by a hell-hole journey in Paris, then a magnificent few days in San Sebastian. I was still new to and learning about the backpacking world, and it was the third country I was visiting outside the familiar UK. I speak a little bit of Portuguese (the Brazilian version) so I was already excited to show off these skills to the locals. It turns out I speak a much more polite version than the locals. Arriving here I made some incredible Canadian and American friends, who I am still in touch with to this day, and who joined us to south Portugal for another few nights. This hostel offers friendly vibes, and great facilities to share set out with only small groups, so it is friendly enough to make friends, but not crowded enough to enjoy your space. They serve Sangria most nights and this was my first try of my now addicted Sangria and specifically red wine - I owe it to Portugal. The outdoor courtyard of this place is somewhat fairytale, with its lighting and vine covered brick walls that enclose you in, all to bring you closer to new friends. Here I played my first game of Flip Cup with my Canadian and American friends, got lost climbing the extremely steep yet narrow roads, and enjoyed breakfast of your choice each morning in the main kitchen. Overall Lisbon is an under-rated city, and I will return here, with my accommodation of choice back at Oasis to make new friends, hopefully for life.

Bathroom for one room, kitchen and living for two - always enough space in Oasis
Fantastic friends made in Portugal

Now onto the bad. Here are the 5 worst places I have stayed for many reasons and here's exactly why...

1. Vancouver Ramada Inn
Hotel, Vancouver, Canada

I don't know how to put this. Ramada, a quality hotel chain right? Offering accommodation around the world for a good night sleep. There is no denying that this hotel specifically didn't have too much wrong with it. The room was a little small, but not too bad for comfort. The hot water was tempermental, but not enough to ruin the shower. The bed was extraordinarily comfortable, and just perfect for a 28 hour journey to get there and sleep. And here is where it went all wrong. 
My husband and I begun our 7 week honeymoon in Vancouver, to watch some ice hockey, get a few runs in at Whistler and show me his old stomping ground. We were staying at the Ramada for one night after we landed in from YVR at 11:00 pm, then moving onto another hotel near English Bay for the rest of our 5 night stay (thank god we did). We had a shower and freshened up after the long haul flight, cheapest option was SYD - LAX - SFO - YVR a total of 28 hours, so we were on minimal sleep. Bed was all we wanted. I forgot to mention we were on the 5th floor of the 6th floor building. The hotel rooms stop at the 5th floor where the penthouse belongs to a personal owner. Shaun was knocked out cold sleeping before I even touched my head down onto the pillow, he did not witness half of what I am probably unable to share with you. But he was awoken 2 hours later by me at 2:45 am pleading with him to do something about the noise. The noise I am referring to was a Ménage à trois occuring in the penthouse directly above our bed including two females and an overtly loud arrogant man (the personal owner who apparently has lasted for over 3 hours). I heard everything, including one female being dropped, or falling on her bare behind which vibrated our entire room. I was at breaking point, I shook Shaun awake and said how can you sleep through this! Generally, I wouldn't care and Shaun said what I originally thought, how can I stop people from you know, having sex. But 2.5 hours in, with ridiculous (fake) noises and on no sleep I was beyond caring. I rang the reception at 3:00 am and said "Excuse me, but there are terrible noises coming from upstairs on the 6th floor and I am unable to sleep". A bell boy was sent up to do the unthinkable, ask a resident of the building to keep his rendesvous down as he is disturbing the guests. You know what his response was. Girls you're making too much noise. No you arrogant twat you are speaking far too cocky (pardon the pun) and loudly who cares if your having a 3-way keep it to yourself until you can brag to your friends tomorrow. Needless to say I was too embarrassed to mention it the next morning at 8:00 am that I had had less than 5 hours sleep. But I was glad to get out of there for the rest of my Vancouver stay, and never again will I return. 

On 5 hours sleep we still cheer for the Canucks, just backwards with the Aussie Flag.

2. Mission Valley Resort San Diego
Not a resort, San Diego, California

Unlike Vancouver, we were towards the end of our 7 week honeymoon so we found this place on where we could pay on check out. It was in Mission Valley, halfway in between San Diego CBD and Seaworld so a balanced location. We had a car to get around, and they offered free parking. The pictures on the website looked pretty good, we like to book places with an outdoor pool and spa so we thought it would do.
We arrived and almost immediately knew the pictures do no represent the true identity of this dodgy 'resort'. I won't go into too much detail because I do not want to speculate about what I really think this place is for. We arrived in the afternoon and were pretty buggered from the road trip from Las Vegas across the desert and bypassing LA (during peak hour). We lied down on the bed, TV on and ready to plan out the next 3 days in San Diego cautious of money at that point of the trip. Shaun and I were relaxing on the bed having a laugh trying to unwind, when my eye is caught by something in the corner behind the door. A dark patch in the carpet. Is it unravelling carpet? Maybe a dead rodent? Go and check it out Shaun. There nestled in the corner of the room lay this...

A previous guest left behind some personal belongings - they match the style of the carpet
A phone call to reception produced free breakfast for our 3 nights stay and a cleaner to arrive in our room. He came stocked with a clear zip lock bag, he was definitely collecting evidence. After the SDPD left we considered changing rooms, if not "resorts". But we knew we were on a budget and would have to suck it up. I struggled to get 100% comfortable sleeping in that bed. The morning we checked out, approximately 3:00 am to make a 6:00 am flight to Cabo, we realised why there was a leftover garment in our room. With an array of Escalades and SUV's parked all over the joint, all disappearing before anyone would usually resurface from their rooms to explore the beauty of San Diego. Just a tip, do not stay here no matter what the pictures look like. It ain't that pretty.

3. Albany Super 8
Motel, Albany, Up-state New York

After a 4 week road trip around New England into Canada, and through up-state New York, 
we were on the home stretch from Niagara to New York for our return flight home. Unable to make it in one leg, we stopped over Albany to stay the night. As Shaun and I have stayed in a range of hotels, motels, hostels and B&B's over plenty of trips we thought a night in a Super 8 couldn't hurt. It was literally a one night stop and there wasn't anything for us to see, as we would be gone first thing in the morning. We arrived here just before dark and before inspecting the room we went down the road for dinner at the only place that was open. One of those $8.00 all you can eat, you know up-state style, Golden Coral I think it was. I ate steamed vegetables and rice avoiding anything suspicious, mainly because of deep fried or health hazard precaution. Usually I eat many cuisines overseas, but America is the only country that has left me with food poisioning to date. Back at the motel room its late and we are ready to hit the hay. After a shower that would not warm up, I peeled back the sheets to discover the bed had all different hairs stuck to the fleece blanket. It's the middle of winter in North America, no hot water and no fleece blanket am I going to make it through the night? Bang! Bang! Bang! It's 10:30 at night who is at a motel room door? Maybe we aren't going to make it through the night. I make Shaun creep over to check the door. He opens it to the latch only. Oh, sorry wrong room says some random guy. I think I have watched too many American horror movies, it was the perfect setting for something to go wrong. We leave the next morning and as we are packing up the Jeep the town siren starts going off, we start rushing thinking OK we're evacuating now. And the town is silent, calm and going about their business. I still don't know if there was an incoming tornado (in the middle of winter I doubt) or someone on the loose, but the siren rang through the town for ages. On check out we wanted to complain about the hot water and us being unable to change rooms, apparently we were the closest to the hot water tank so should get the first dibs, poor buggers at the end... The receptionist gets out the complaint book. Dead set she heaves up a book as thick as Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and opens it up to the back. It's like what haven't we heard before. 
So in the last 3 trips to North America, we have stayed at Super 8 once, and once only.

4. Peter Pan Hostel
Hostel, Rebibbia, Rome

Rome is spectacular, full of history and ruin. This place is nothing but ruin, and unfortunately represents a poor metropolitan Rome, surrounded by the graffiti that surrounds most of the city. Most hostels are expensive for a stay in Rome and EFH's top hostel was booked out, so I thought I would cut back this city and try somewhere different within my price range. There is a reason this place is $25.00 a night, and should be less! I get out at Rebibbia station and walk the short distance to the hotel, it was short enough to walk straight past a prison. Then when I arrived to this hostel I thought, is this a prison, or maybe it reflected more like a hospital ward. The wide hallways, with shared bathrooms with tubs that looked straight out of the One Who Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Our room was in the basement, with a small narrow window just above ground, so we could escape if we needed to. There was just nothing going for this place, the staff were not interested, the kitchen was sterile in a way that was uninviting with tables and chairs, again straight from the hit Jack Nicholson movie. What really bothered me about this hostel was when departing I asked for a taxi call to pick me up and drop off to the Roma Centrale station in time for my departure to Bari. Usually I am happy to catch trains everywhere, but being so far out in the suburbs a taxi was quicker so I didn't miss my train. I head outside with my backpack on and wait for the taxi to arrive. 10 minutes. 15 minutes. I need to ask questions now. The receptionist didn't make the call. They make a rushed call to the taxi company and I walk out to the main road now to make the journey that little bit faster. In the end, yes I missed my original train, which meant I had to stay in Bari for an extra night and miss my original ferry to Athens. Come to think of it, I can again blame this hostel to the terrible experience I had on the back up ferry I took to Greece.
Prison-like Quarters in Rome
5. Sofitel Queenstown
Hotel, Queenstown, New Zealand

I thought hard about what was number 5 on this list. Mainly because of the dozens of places I have stayed they have been great, offered just what I needed and 5 out of 50 isn't too bad. So if I have to pick, it would have to be the top of the range Sofitel in Queenstown. The premises are prestigious, the location is spot on, and the amenities were top notch. It is the best bathroom I have ever had the pleasure of showering and bathing in, with heated floors, waterfall showerhead and TV set in the bathtub wall. Amaze-balls! The king bed was one of the best I've slept, and was finished off with two little balconies that were just above street level. I just plain didn't like the vibe. It felt pretentious, and I can't deal with pretentious. I can stay in resorts, 5-star quality but give me the humble smile and warmth when I walk in!!! The staff were all tightly lipped, and spoke French in a New Zealand city, offering a Bonjour/Bonsour on arrival, give me a Kia Ora!!! If I wanted the French hospitality I would gladly receive it in France, New Caledonia or French Canada. I like authenticity, and local flavour which I found this hotel lacked. Everything else was spot on, but if I were to return to Queenstown, it would be to visit somewhere a lot more laid back and run by a local. I only have myself to blame for booking it, and most would love the experience. It just wasn't for me.

I haven't offered links or photos to help describe these locations as I wouldn't recommend them to my readers. At the end of the day, book accommodation that best suits you and yourself as a traveller. You will always be slightly surprised wherever you book, and these experiences shape future visits and tell your story. 

Whether you're looking for the best quality budget hostel, the 5-star all-inclusive resort, and even the all-inclusive (sub-)penthouse magazine shoot, embrace the journey always.